Rather quietly The Americans has emerged as one of the more innovative shows on television. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that narratively speaking the show includes many clichés of the Golden Age of TV dramas. However, The Americans has been making up for that with a portrayal of sexuality that television hasn’t seen before and by perfecting the use of its New York filming location to lure in Broadway talent. Season three isn’t the best season of the show but it confirms that The Americans isn’t losing steam either.
The third season of The Americans follows the debate between Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) over to let their daughter, Paige (Holly Taylor), in on their secret that they are KGB agents and whether to induct her into a recruitment program. At the same time, Elizabeth continues to deal with the physical challenges and Philip the emotional challenges as their jobs get ever more demanding.
I thought season two of The Americans was a much more up and down affair compared to the all around great first season. While season three continues with that rocky start it once again finds the consistency that made the show so great in the first place. As it goes back to throwing genre tropes on its head and develops a really great supporting character in Paige (which is really surprising considering how teenage characters with increased story importance tend to go very wrong on television shows), the show goes back to being one of the best dramas on television.
While the Paige storyline is the highlight of the season (and Keri Russell and are Holly Taylor are allowed to deliver powerhouse performances with the material), there is still a lot to like with the many other (and an abundance of plotlines does hinder the show at points) story points. Philip being caught up in the moral dilemma of taking advantage of a minor in order to gain information is very suspenseful and the ability to bring in great but underutilized Broadway actors such as Jefferson Mays and Brandon J. Dirden (who should be getting much more parts than he currently is after his amazing performance in All the Way) bring some much needed energy to the FBI plotline.
The second season of The Americans certainly was not a bad season of The Americans so the third season can’t really be called a return to form, but it certainly is a season to remember.